Reflection by Marlee Lord

My study abroad was truly the adventure of a lifetime. My class on the palaces of Florence was the perfect way to learn about the city I was living in. I loved learning the stories behind these incredible structures that I walked by every day. Living in Florence gave the art and architectural history of the city another dimension. Studying abroad also opened my eyes to a whole new culture. After the second week I really started to feel like I was living in the city and not just visiting. I took every opportunity to try experience the city like a local, like going to the Sant’Ambrogio market every week and trying some of the local delicacies like lampredotto, the fourth stomach of a cow, served on a panino. I’m not going to lie, it really freaked me out but I’m glad I pushed myself because it was actually pretty good. I always tried my best to use Italian where I could, but I really struggled with pronunciation so even though I knew the words to say, I wasn’t able to communicate them. My advice would to anyone would be to learn a handful of helpful phrases in the local language and practice them. Most people seemed to truly appreciate the effort and I hated feeling like a tourist or helpless when I couldn’t communicate with others.

Living in a foreign country, I learned a lot about the art and the culture, but I also learned a lot about myself. This was one of the first times in my life where I was fully functioning on my own wavelength. My whole life I have been surrounded by friends and family that I love more than anything, but I always found myself either supporting or relying on them. Living in Italy I was able to find out how I do life and make decisions that just impact me. I know the idea that people travel to “find themselves” is pretty cliche but this trip proved it to be true. I am leaving Italy a complete version of myself and the people I found along the way are now family.

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